Federal Government arts and entertainment support package welcomed by sector

AMV Live music concertAustralia’s live performance industry has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a significant package of targeted funding measures to support the arts and entertainment industry recover from the impact of COVID-19 over the next 12 months.

“We thank the Prime Minister and Arts Minister with this announcement to restart our industry, a significant acknowledgement of the arts and entertainment industry’s critical role in creating jobs and growth within the Australian economy,” said Live Performance Australia’s President, Richard Evans. “We look forward to working closely with the government to get our businesses safely up and running and in front of audiences across Australia as soon as possible.”

Today’s announcement by the Government comprises the following components:

  • Seed Investment to Reactivate Productions and Tours – $75 million in competitive grant funding in 2020-21 through the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund. This program will provide capital to help production and event businesses to put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease, including through innovative operating and digital delivery models. Grants of varying sizes will be available, from $75,000 through to $2 million.
  • Show Starter Loans – $90 million in concessional loans to assist creative economy businesses to fund new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity. The loans program will complement the RISE Fund and will be delivered through commercial banks, backed by a 100 per cent Commonwealth guarantee.
  • Kick-starting Local Screen Production – $50 million for a Temporary Interruption Fund, to be administered by Screen Australia, that will support local film and television producers to secure finance and start filming again, supporting thousands of jobs in the sector. Filming of new productions has largely been halted as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19.
  • Supporting Sustainability of Sector-Significant Organisations – $35 million to provide direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19, which may include organisations in fields including theatre, dance, circus, music and other fields. The Government will partner with the Australia Council to deliver this funding.
  • Creative Economy Taskforce – establishment of a ministerial taskforce to partner with the Government and the Australia Council to implement the JobMaker plan for the creative economy.

“Our industry was the first to be profoundly affected by the public health restrictions to combat COVID-19, and faces a longer road to recovery as restrictions are progressively lifted around the country,” said Live Performance Australia’s Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson.

“COVID-19 has caused significant damage and disruption for our industry: performing arts companies and venues closed overnight; performers, production and technical staff and crews were without work or stood down; and companies and organisations were left with no alternative sources of revenue.”

“JobKeeper has been an important support for those who have been able to access it. However, many in our industry have suffered devastating income losses, along with the many businesses which rely on our industry, including across the tourism and hospitality sector.”

“That’s why the measures announced in this package, which reflect our industry’s unique characteristics and the challenges it faces, are so important. They also recognise the significant economic contribution that our commercial sector makes to Australia’s economic and cultural well-being.

“Commercial production companies are among the biggest generators of employment and economic activity in the performing arts, and it is pleasing to see their contribution and needs have been addressed in this package,” said Ms Richardson. “We greatly appreciate the support of the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Minister for the Arts in developing this package and their recognition of the important contribution the arts and entertainment industry makes to Australia’s economic, social and cultural life.”

“State and territory governments have also put in place critical funding measures to support the industry through this period. Their continued support as we reopen and reactivate over the coming months will also be vital.”

“Our priority now is to get our industry fully operational, our venues open and our people back to work. We are very much looking forward to turning the lights back on and seeing our performers and artists back on stage and touring as soon as practicable,” said Ms Richardson.

The Australia Council for the arts has also welcomed the announcement of an industry specific support package for the cultural and creative industries.

“This is a welcome investment in some of the industries hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19” said Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette AM. “An investment in the arts is a smart investment in recovery: creativity-led productivity fuels our economy and our social fabric.”

“Arts and culture are major drivers for tourism, both domestic and international. They boost the hospitality sector. They underpin the vitality of our cities and regions, and the perception of Australia internationally.”

Mr Collette will join a newly established creative economy taskforce that will work closely with government to provide advice on the investments within the support package. “This is welcome and much needed support for the creative industry that has been devastated by the necessary restrictions on public gatherings,” he said.

“We acknowledge and welcome this commitment, in addition to the whole of government programs including the JobKeeper and JobSeeker legislation. We will continue to do all we can to work collaboratively with the Office for the Arts to provide advice to the Minister, now and into the future,” said Mr Collette.